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March 1, 2014 by The Citron Review

by Tina Tocco


On Fridays, my mother calls the Park & Rec. She sits in her kitchen as the sun turns away, curtains close together, canisters and tins in their place. She takes the farthest chair, in the tightest corner, where the spiders nest. Her pencil, worn to its nub, is wedged between nerve and bone, and the bone is wedged between flesh that accounts for her hand. It blocks the final sheet of a memo pad held by spiral rings. And I am here, toeless sneakers pressed to the doorsill, barely one room away.

“Park & Rec,” I guess they answer.

“Hello. Mrs. Tylo speaking.”

A pause. Long enough for someone to say, “Yes. Mrs. Tylo. Yes. Good to hear from you, dear.”

“I would like a brochure on your summer camp, please.”

A pause. Maybe, “Yes. Of course, dear. Yes.”

“100 Midland Court.”

Now something like, “Of course, Mrs. Tylo. We know where you are.”

My mother’s knees are tight under the table. She says, her mouth only as wide as the words, “Thank you.” Her pencil ticks a single stroke on a page already covered.

The damp under the sink is where she knows I will not go. She unclips its door and lets it swing wide. A scatter of light grabs what it can: A shoe box, small. Camp brochures pressed along their folds. A shot of Billy from my own camera…

Just before the shot, Billy says, “Charlotte, take one of me.”

“No way. I’ve only got one left.”

“Please, Charlotte. If I show her I can swim to the rock, she’ll let me go. Please?”

He casts all but his trunks into the wildness growing out from the dock.

“Okay, Charlotte? Get everything in the picture, okay?”

Billy unfolds his arms at his everything—a spreading lake and a rock.

He leaps as far as I’ve seen him dare. More. It’s “only” 200 strokes, I’ve heard the boys say, and they know, don’t they?

Billy bobs once or twice, like he always does, then shoots out. He passes roots and reeds. The reflection of the big oak diving tree. The halfway mark the sun has streaked…

The water rips and then it hits rock. One of Billy’s hands does the same, smacking a buzzer for a prize.

I snap the shot.

Billy pushes off the rock. He bobs once or twice, like he always does, then once or twice again. The sluice siphoning off his legs trembles. His strokes ascend to a light nearly gone, from water bright and cold with sunset. He bobs once or twice, like he always does, then once or twice again. He reaches for the dock, though he is nowhere near. His arms overextend, his hands seize and curl. The water slips like a sheet, soft and neat…

My mother slips her pencil into the spirals and her pad into its box. The cover is put in its place, the cupboard door into its latch.


Tina Tocco’s flash fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, The Portland Review, Passages North, Potomac Review, Italian Americana, Clockhouse Review, Border Crossing, Voices in Italian Americana, and Fiction Fix. She was a finalist in CALYX’s 2013 Flash Fiction Contest. Tina’s work has also appeared or is pending in Inkwell, The Westchester Review, The Summerset Review, and other publications. In 2008, her poetry was anthologized in Wild Dreams: The Best of Italian Americana (Fordham University Press). Tina earned her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College, where she was editor-in-chief of Inkwell

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